One of the most terrifying things that I’ve been through is visual hallucinations. Most of the time they’re paranoid glances caught in the corner of my eye as I turn around, or focus on something else. They put me on edge like nothing else can, seeing shadows that are always people shaped, but have no details.
When I’m highly anxious and driving I see things on the side of the road– a kid on a bike, a hitch hiker holding onto a bag, someone stepping into the road… they’re not necessarily scary sights, but they put you on edge– you don’t want to run anyone over. You also have to live with wondering if you really saw someone on the corner, or if you weren’t paying good enough attention. You sit up straighter, lean towards the steering wheel and become afraid to blink….what if you miss something and that person is actually there? What are they going to do? If they run into your car, its still your fault, right? Driving is stressful, but it still offers the protection of being in an enclosed car that you can speed off in if that shadow starts to chase.
I was discussing “shadow people” and how uncanny and hard to describe it is, when I was introduced to a poem that really worked for me. It’s vague, just like the hallucinations I see, and simultaneously horrifying. This is the reality that we have to live with.
Here’s an excerpt from a blog that deeply resonates with me.:
(Living with Hallucinations) I see you Hiding in the shaded corner of the closet You delight in evading my glances I see you Shifting right in front of me You’re too quick to capture I see you Peering through the broken blinds You pretend the wall divides us I hear you […]
Right after I finished reading that, I glanced up from the phone and saw the vague shadow of a person crossing the mostly closed blinds of the window. I freaked. Thankfully, I was able to see the tiniest detail- a color, as the shadow crossed. My hallucinations are never in color, always shades of black/grey. I was also not alone, and was able to be reminded that it was dinner time and people were just getting home. We laughed it off, wondered how the hell we would explain this to someone who didn’t know the challenges that we face, and finished closing the blinds.
My normal paranoid, anxious, or even manic hallucinations all follow one basic guideline; you don’t get details. It’s a flash of movement, you know that you saw something, but it leaves you frustrated, wondering where it went or what exactly it was. Our brain is hardwired to see faces in things, but I don’t get to see their face, and that may be part of why it’s so scary. I see faceless people. There’s nothing to relate to with my demons other than that they have a head, and body, something similar to what I have, and I know that my body can be dangerous–theirs must be too.